BLOG: Covid-19 and the impact on domestic abuse victims

Angela Clarke has worked in the domestic abuse sector for over 20 years, as a front line professional.  She offers services for victims and more recently has become the strategic lead for domestic abuse at Liverpool City Council. 

Here, she talks about how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on victims.

Reducing domestic abuse is a key priority for Liverpool and every day my priority is to increase safety for victims and to increase support for our residents.  

However, an increase in domestic abuse since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic is concerning me now, more than ever before. 

In April last year, services moved online and residents remained at home in lockdown, the fear was that many women, children and men would suffer alone.

Now the data is revealing that gut feeling was sadly right.

Covid lockdowns create a perfect storm for controlling, violent behaviour behind closed doors where victims and families are confined with their abuser, reducing access to support services.

Tragically, nine Liverpool residents have lost their lives to domestic abuse in the last year.   This figure includes suicides and homicides relating to abuse within a domestic setting.    

Requests for domestic abuse support services have also increased by approximately 20 percent. 

Support agencies are seeing ever complex cases, as families worry about money, home schooling and general uncertainty, which compound issues of abuse.

One in three contacts to Children Social Care cite domestic abuse as an issue, compared to one in five contacts a year ago

It is important to remember that if you are suffering domestic abuse you are not alone.   

The government has issued exemptions so victims are able to leave their home if they are at risk or harm.  

I urge anybody suffering domestic abuse not to suffer in silence, taking the first step is difficult, but local services as open and offering support and advice if you need it.

A client who accessed online support from a local domestic agency recently told me: ‘My support workers have been amazing.  Speaking to people on the zoom call is amazing, I live alone, so the support and seeing people stopped me from being totally on my own’.  

If you, your child, or anyone in your family is at immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police urgently on 999.

If you are not in immediate risk, but are concerned and need information or support; or if you suspect that someone you know or love is being subjected to domestic abuse and want advice about how to help them please see below:

Women – 0808 2000 247  (free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline)

Men – 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) (free Men’s Advice Line)

For local Services for domestic/sexual abuse, forced marriage and “honour” crimes and support for children:

Anyone who is concerned about their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on 0808 802 4040 (free helpline)

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